Typically, writing is healing for me, but lately it just feels like one more thing to do. I’ve been surviving each week by focusing on my kids and staying busy. I just don’t want to be still long enough to feel the pain. I’m a big believer in working through difficult situations, but I’m trudging through this holiday season by avoiding the inevitable. It’s not working, and today is rainy and dreary in the typically mild coastal south, and I really want the sun to come out.
Before Thanksgiving, Gil and I agreed to move through the holidays civilly for the sake of our boys. He is still traveling during the week, so we only have a couple of weekend days to navigate. We made it through Thanksgiving — spent the day at his Aunt’s and then his sister and her family stayed with us through the weekend. He did not tell her or anyone else that we are separated. Gil manages emotionally charged topics by avoiding them altogether and pretending everything is fine. He’s so good at it that he actually convinces himself that everything is okay; then he seems perplexed when I’m still upset.
Gil also accepted a new job, which means that starting the first of the year he will no longer be traveling during the week. This is good for him, but it’s going to force us to make some decisions. The teeny tiny part of me that still holds on to an inkling of hope wants to believe that once he’s out from under the stress of his current job, our relationship will improve. Past experience tells me that I’m deluding myself.
So much has happened since the last time I wrote about our marriage that I’m not sure where to begin, and today, even though I have a little time and space to write, I can’t seem to put my thoughts and feelings into words in any sort of coherent way.
In addition to the stress in my marriage, I have some stuff going on with my mother. Her timing is impeccable and regardless of how much I share with her — not very much, usually — she ignores my pain and turns the conversation into something about her. Currently, I’m successfully avoiding her because her last email was so damn rude that I just don’t have the patience for her self-serving drama. I’m furious just thinking about it. About a month ago, I tried to be direct and told her that I had some things going on in my life that needed my full attention. I told her that I loved her but that I needed some distance because our interactions do not help me, especially when I’m dealing with stress. This came about after I told her in October that Gil and I had decided to stay home this holiday season, but we would love for her to visit us. Our children are five and three, and we have traveled every year since my oldest was born. When I first told her, she was quiet but said she understood. Less than twenty-four hours later she was berating me and accusing me of not caring about anyone in my family. In particular, she was referring to my brother and my uncle (her brother who is like her son and like my brother.)
I feel compelled to mention that we’ve been over this subject before. As for my brother, I found out just over a year ago that he had access to my mom’s bank account and was sucking somewhere between $2k-$4k out every month. He also had one of her credit cards for “emergencies” which appeared to be lots of concerts and guitar equipment, according to the statements that I was forced to analyze.
How, you might ask, did I learn of all this? Well, my mother had a major depressive episode, didn’t sleep for a week, wrote Gil and me a suicide note after we brought her to our home, and wound up having to go to a mental hospital for ten days. According TO HER, this all happened because of the stress of my brother taking money from her. I’m still working through my own anger and other emotions that this information created. So, her attacking me for NOT loving my family and throwing a tantrum because we’re not coming for Christmas only annoys me.
NO, I don’t want to travel this year, but additionally, my family is a big bag of dysfunction and I prefer to stay as far away from all of it as possible. I have forgiven my brother, and I understand that he has some problems, but I’m not really interested in sitting around Christmas dinner looking like a pretty family pretending that everything is wonderful. Sorry — I’m just not there yet and I don’t know if I ever will be.
My mom, who is great at pretending that everything is wonderful acts as if none of that even happened. She can’t comprehend how trying last year was for me, Gil, and our kids. We were happy to help her and would never have considered not doing it, but that was just one more stressor in our lives that was kind of put on us through no fault of our own. When she looks back at her breakdown, she hardly remembers any of it. She was really out of it and then was heavily medicated, so in her mind it’s almost as if it didn’t happen. My brother avoided the whole thing and pretty much went off the grid the entire time my mom was in the hospital. My mom’s brother had all of her accounts frozen and called my brother threatening to have him arrested but was unable to get in touch with him. This went on for months. The first time I saw my brother after all of this with my mom happened was eight months later, and he didn’t even mention it — totally pretended that it never happened. So, again — NO, I feel like all I do is clean up his shit. I do not care to spend the holidays with him. This is just one of many situations that has occurred over the years with my brother. I will tell you as I told my mom — I love him, but I really can’t be around him regularly.
Lots more to write, but I need to stop for now. I actually feel a bit better and hope to write more about my marriage later.